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3 up, 3 down: No. 5 FSU baseball remains undefeated with win over Troy

Cole Sands shines in Friday debut.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida State vs LSU Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Florida State (5-0) defeated Troy (4-2) on Friday afternoon, allowing four hits in a 7-3 win. The Trojans were shutout until the top of the ninth inning when they loaded the bases and drove in three quick runs.

Three up:

  • Florida State may have found its new Friday starter in Cole Sands. The junior RHP was on the bump a week ago and delivered a career-high nine strikeouts in a win over Xavier. This was a day after ace Tyler Holton left the game with what would be diagnosed later in the week as a torn UCL, which required season-ending Tommy John surgery. In the Friday role today against Troy, Sands (2-0) earned the win, throwing six innings, striking out five, allowing two hits, and giving up two walks. Sands showed resiliency getting out of a jam with runners on first and second in the third inning and also fielded well.
  • Jackson Lueck led the ’Noles a season ago with a .318 batting average. Heading into today’s game he was hitting just .143, but he may have put an end to his slump with a no-doubt home run well over the right field wall in the third inning. The junior left fielder is one of the most well-rounded hitters on the team and must find his swing before ACC play begins in a few weeks.
  • One of the biggest surprises of the season has been the play of center fielder J.C. Flowers. The sophomore leads the Seminoles this season with a .438 average, and his double in the seventh inning was his team-leading third extra-base hit. Flowers also walked twice in the game and scored once, filling up the box score in an all-around effort.

Three down:

  • The Seminoles had a lot to be excited about when it came to shortstop Mike Salvatore. The transfer from Northwest Florida State College led his team in hits, runs, and stolen bases a year ago. So far, through five games, Salvatore is hitting a meager .125 in the leadoff role. Although he had a hit and a stolen base today, the junior has yet to find his swing as a Seminole, having just a single hit in his first four games leading up to today. FSU requires more production out of its leadoff hitter, who has been known to leave runners on base.
  • Cal Raleigh’s struggles at the plate and against runners on the base paths continued today. The junior catcher went 0-4 and left four runners on base. He also leads the team in strikeouts with four in five games. Raleigh has allowed opposing runners to run all over him this season, giving up seven stolen bases on eight attempts, one of which came today when he was forced to gather himself again when throwing down to second.
  • As a whole team, the hitting has been somewhat underwhelming. A solo shot by Lueck and a three-run homer by Jonathan Foster in his first bat with FSU carried the offense today. If Lueck can dig his way out of his slump and Salvatore can put the bat on the ball, the issues on offense should not be as glaring as they are. Although in all fairness, when compared to the pitching this season, it is difficult for the batting to compare.

Tomorrow at 1:00, FSU and Troy will play in the second game of the series. LHP Drew Parrish (1-0) is set to start for the Seminoles.